IM'ing at work

It has come to my attention that several of my employees have installed and are instant messaing on their computers. We have an internet use/email policy, but we really don't enforce it too harshly. We figure as long as the employees are getting their work done, it's fine. But, this seems to be something diffrent...more time consuming than just emailing. Have any of you dealt with this issue? I almost feel like it would inconsistent if all of a sudden we cracked down when we really  haven't before.



  • 7 Comments sorted by Votes Date Added
  • you are right, as long as employees are getting their work done, everything should be fine.  if you spot a performance problem then you can crack down as long as you do so consistently. instant messaging creates other areas for potential problems.  in many cases, there is no record of what is said in the messages so there is no way to retrieve them when investigating harassment and discrimination complaints. we use a IM program that records all the instant messages that we send and receive.
  • Hey, would you let your employees go to other workers' desks and chat away?  Probably not.  So why let them instant message?

    HR or IT should send out a general e-mail stating that instant messaging is not allowed on company computers and on company time.  You can attach a copy of the policy.

    At least this proves the company does not condone IM'ing if someone is being harassed in the workplace.

    If employees want to instant message, they can do it on their own equipment on their own time (lunch, breaks). 


  • Why is there a need for IM'ing in the workplace at all?   Doesn't email do the job?   I think it should be blocked  completely.
  • i was reading one of the e-newsletters i get, and there was a 2 part article about how IM'ing can actually cause security issues...check them out...

  • I'm no 'master' at instant messaging (as evidence, I don't even use it enough to refer it as IM'ing) but I can attest that when using it, you can communicate faster (in a back and forth discussion) than e-mail . So if employees are actually using it for work, it could actually speed up their communications.
  • My company provides IM technology as an integrated part of our e-mail system.  This is a productive use of time as the back and forth is much quicker than e-mail.  It also allows you to see who is available, and who is not.  The issue that I would have in your circumstance is that the employees are installing software on company computers.  This is not something that you should be allowing to happen.  You can have issues with viruses, etc, but the bigger issue is whether you have software on your equipment for which there isn't a license.  If an employee is installing a copy of a program that they have for their home computer then the copy that is loaded on your equipment is illegal, and the company can be penalized.  It is vital that you get a policy out there, or an existing policy reinforced, regarding what can and cannot be installed on company equipment.  The productivity issue you may or may not be having because of the use of IMing is a side issue.
  • As with anything in the workplace, you have to set up some rules for IMing

    State that IMs are suited for short amounts of information that need to be received immediately (quotes, PO numbers, delivery times, phone numbers). E-mail should be used for longer communications.

    IMs should not be used as a substitute for oral communication with clients, vendors, or inhouse colleagues.

    IMs may not be used when transmitting confidential, proprietary, or trade secret information.

    All company security procedures apply to IMs and procedures regarding antivirus software must be followed.

     Hope this helps!

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